Parker on the uptick

CLEMSON - A year before the excitement that Tony Steward and Stephone Anthony brought in February, Clemson closed 2010 with Justin Parker, the state's top linebacker.

Barely a year removed from his announcement on the first Wednesday in February of 2010, Parker is listed as the second-team strong-side linebacker behind Quandon Christian. The sophomore is also holding down the MACK position (middle) in the nickel package and pushing Corico Hawkins for time at middle linebacker in the base defense.

Parker attributed his standing on the depth chart to film study with some of the team's veteran players.

"I got into the film room with a couple of other guys and studied by butt off during the offseason," he told reporters after Monday afternoon's practice. "It's showing out there on the field."

And head coach Dabo Swinney and defensive coordinator Kevin Steele have taken notice.

"He knows what to do," Steele said. "It's as simple as that.

"We knew he was a good player, a tough player, could run—had instincts. He just didn't know what to do, and the switch comes on at different times. He plays a hard position. He has to quarterback it in the nickel."

The former three-star prospect continues to become more and more confident. On the field, he's able to rely on instinct, which has allowed him to up his level of play.

"Now, I'm starting to get the hang of it, learning what to do," Parker said.

As a freshman, Parker had seven tackles over just 57 snaps. He projects to see increases in both numbers, despite the additions of Steward, Anthony, Lateek Townsend and B.J. Goodson.

Whichever position Parker ends up playing this fall, so be it.

"I'm here to do what better helps the team," he said. Top Stories